Archive for July, 2010

The following commentary is by Riley B. Case, associate executive director of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church.

Dr. Riley B. Case

Dr. Case served many years as a pastor and district superintendent in the UMC’s North Indiana Conference (now the Indiana Conference). He has been a delegate to five UM General Conferences. (Links below have been added by MethodistThinker.com.) — Ed.

I was speaking with a fellow pastor several years ago and inquired whether he and his church might be interested in Good News magazine. He replied “no” because people in his congregation were upset enough with the denomination as it was without hearing more stuff.

He went on to explain that the denominational papers were bad enough even with their institutional spin. If his people got the real news they would be tempted to “jump ship.”

In this pastor’s mind it was better to keep the people in the dark than that they should be informed about what the church was really doing. I thought of that conversation several weeks ago when the following stories broke:

1) Southern California’s Claremont School of Theology.

This UM seminary is now “multi-faith” — meaning they are bringing on board Muslim professors to train Muslim imams (clergy) and Jewish professors to train rabbis. Soon they will train Hindus and Buddhists.

Claremont president Jerry D. Campbell

United Methodist apportionment monies support this endeavor to the tune of about $1 million a year.

In a world of great poverty, in a world crying out for preachers to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ, in a denomination short of funds, our tithes and offerings are being used to promote the idea that all religions are various roads to the same god.

The president of the Claremont School of Theology, Dr. Jerry D. Campbell, told the United Methodist Reporter that Christians who seek to evangelize persons of other faiths to accept Jesus Christ have “an incorrect perception of what it means to follow Jesus.”

2) ‘Sex and the Church: An Ordained Single Woman and the [Book of] Discipline.’

This article, part of a series on human sexuality appearing in the Faith in Action electronic newsletter sponsored by the UM General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), essentially argues that the church’s standard on sexuality — “celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in marriage” — needs to be changed.

Sexual intercourse outside of marriage can be loving and fulfilling and should not be considered sinful, even for clergy. (In August, 2009, a Unitarian minister was given space by GBCS to make a somewhat similar argument.)

Other articles in the series have argued that abstinence programs don’t work, abortion is OK, and teenagers need to be instructed in maturity for the timing of sexual encounters.

Missing are any articles written from the perspective of the traditional and Biblical view of marriage and human sexuality.

Missing too for the last 38 years (since 1972 when the board was founded) are any articles or statements in defense of the Biblical (and United Methodist) stance that “the practice of homosexuality [is] incompatible with Christian teaching” (¶161F, The Book of Discipline—2008).

3) The church’s support and lobbying for a partisan health-care plan that narrowly passed the U.S. Congress.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly thanked the UMC for advocating for a plan that had only one-party support, it took many United Methodists by surprise. How did we get lined up on only one side of a partisan issue? Those who have been around the inside workings of the church were not so surprised.

Spkr. Pelosi at Glide UMC—San Francisco

It used to be different. Many years ago the church’s moral and social stances came from the people. There were no general agencies to pontificate that the use of alcohol was sin or the slavery was against the will of God. These views grew out of the convictions of the people responding to Biblical preaching.

Today social stances are decreed from the top down. General agencies, such as the General Board of Church and Society, are staffed by some of the most liberal persons in the denomination. These persons write General Conference legislation out of their own biases. This legislation is pushed through the General Conference, often without debate, and placed in the 1084-page Book of Resolutions.

Then the same staff members who wrote the legislation quote the Book of Resolutions, “represent” the “church’s stand” on numbers of controversial issues, and argue before lawmakers that this is the considered United Methodist position. Obviously, the system is flawed.

Perhaps as never before there is a fundamental divide between the corporate leadership of the United Methodist Church and its people. In addition, the corporate leadership is either unwilling or unable to recognize the seriousness of this problem and relate it to the membership and financial crisis presently facing the church.

The Claremont situation should be considered as exhibit #1 illustrating our problems.

That a denomination that claims to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Book of Discipline ¶121), that speaks of its mission as “making disciples of Jesus Christ” (¶120), that operates with doctrinal standards in the Wesleyan tradition, that historically has been in large part responsible for defining the word “evangelical” in American church life — that such a denomination should continue to pour money into an institution that operates with a philosophy that undermines all that United Methodism has been about is indefensible.

Claremont-provided photo (via UMNS)

Claremont operates without regard to United Methodist history and doctrine. It has declared itself to be going in a different direction from the church. This is fine, but this means there should be disaffiliation.

Let the school raise money from sources in the Middle East (as it has spoken of doing). But why should bishops urge local churches to cut back staff and program to “pay apportionments” when those apportionments are used as “bail out” money to prop up sick seminaries.

Furthermore, MEF (Ministerial Education Fund) monies should support students (who now graduate with huge debts), not institutions. If the fund supports seminaries, it should support seminaries overseas where the UMC is growing and not be restricted only to seminaries in the U.S.

Are these matters even being debated? The Council of Bishops is quiet; the General Board of Higher Education and the Ministry is quiet; the other UM seminaries are hesitant to criticize another seminary lest they too should come under criticism.

Is there hope? At the moment the only hope seems to be the Call to Action Steering Team, which will be making recommendations with the goal of reforming and renewing the UMC.

The church is investing a great deal of energy and trust in this committee. Will the committee rise to the challenge? Will the Connectional Table and the Council of Bishops be willing to support any of the controversial recommendations? Or will the corporate culture, which is invested in institutions and in a defective church structure that simply is not working, be too much to overcome?

The future of the United Methodist Church is at stake.

evangelical-and-methodistIn addition to his role as associate executive director of the Confessing Movement, Riley B. Case serves as a member of the Good News board of directors and as president of the board of the Kokomo (Ind.) Rescue Mission.

Dr. Case is a graduate of Taylor University and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He earned a graduate degree from Northwestern University and holds an honorary degree from Taylor University.

His books include Evangelical and Methodist: A Popular History (Abingdon) and Understanding Our United Methodist Hymnal (Wipf and Stock).

Related posts
Claremont president: Christians shouldn’t evangelize people of other faiths
UM seminary embraces non-Christian faiths, will train Muslim imams, Jewish rabbis
In GBCS article, UM elder argues against celibacy for single clergy
Board of Church and Society sex-ed writer: Sex outside of marriage can be ‘moral, ethical’
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
United Methodist Church facing health bill fallout
House Speaker thanks UMC for help in passing health bill
How did the UMC come to define health care as a ‘right’?

Related articles and information
United Methodist money to train Muslim clerics? | Riley B. Case, Good News (July 6, 2010)
Another PR release for Claremont | Terry Mattingly, GetReligion.org (July 6, 2010)
Claremont’s religious diversity: Church affirms multi-faith project | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (July 2, 2010)
University Senate rescinds public warning (PDF) | news release, University Senate of the United Methodist Church (June 25, 2010)
University Senate organization, policies, and guidelines — 2009-2012 (PDF) | United Methodist University Senate
Claremont seminary reaches beyond Christianity | Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times (June 9, 2010)
Theology school becomes 1st accredited U.S. seminary to train Muslim & Jewish theologians | Islam Today (June 9, 2010)
Why Methodist seminaries are becoming irrelevant and dying | Riley B. Case, Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church (July 2009 — via Methodist Examiner)
The 2008 Book of Resolutions: The voice of the United Methodist Church? (PDF) | Liza Kittle, RENEW

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A prominent United Methodist layman has compiled a percentage breakdown of last year’s votes on 32 proposed amendments to the United Methodist Constitution, showing the areas of the church in which the various amendments were most strongly supported or rejected.

Although votes on the amendments took place at annual conference sessions in 2009, the totals weren’t ratified by the United Methodist Council of Bishops until two months ago. In all, only five of the 32 amendments won approval across the denomination.

Joe M. Whittemore

The breakdown, compiled by former North Georgia Conference lay leader Joe M. Whittemore, shows that opposition to the controversial “Worldwide Nature” amendments came largely from Africa and from the U.S.’s Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ). Those 23 amendments — all soundly defeated — would have restructured the UMC into a series of regional conferences, including a likely U.S. Conference.

“The two largest areas (SEJ and Africa, which have 53.4% of total membership)
voted overwhelmingly against a U.S. conference,” Mr. Whittemore wrote in a brief companion analysis released along with voting results breakdown.

The failure of the restructuring amendments was “a resounding defeat for the idea of having [a single] U.S. area,” Mr. Whittemore wrote. Currently, the U.S. is divided into five semi-autonomous jurisdictions that elect their own bishops.

“This should put to rest not only the idea of a consolidated U.S. area but also any thought of electing and assigning bishops at the U.S. area level,” he wrote.

The breakdown of the overall vote (see table below) shows that less than 3 percent of United Methodists in Africa supported the restructuring amendments. In the U.S.’s Southeastern Jurisdiction, those amendments received only 15 percent support.

Click to enlarge

The full text of all 32 amendments is here (PDF), showing the proposed deletions (stricken text) and additions (in bold/blue) to the UM Constitution. Because amendments relate to constitutional changes , a super-majority vote (at least 66.7 percent) is required for an amendment to be affirmed.

The idea of segregating the church into regional conferences (effectively “national churches” in some cases) received its strongest support from United Methodists in Europe, the Philippines, and the U.S.’s Western Jurisdiction. Together, these areas account for less than 6 percent of the total membership of the denomination.

Across the entire United Methodist Church, the restructuring amendments garnered only 39.5 percent support. “The negative vote on [these] amendments was confirmation of the lack of trust the annual conferences have in giving power to the general church establishment without the implications being clearly stated,” Mr. Whittemore wrote.

Opponents of the Worldwide Nature amendments had warned that the restructuring plan was ill-defined. They argued that passage of the amendments could empower a small, unrepresentative group to make significant changes in denominational structure and areas responsibility.

Europe, the Philippines, and the U.S.’s Western Jurisdiction were also the three areas of the church to give strongest support to Amendment I, an amendment dealing with eligibility requirements for membership in the local church.

Amendment I opponents had argued that its passage would restrict a pastor’s ability to offer spiritual oversight regarding an individual’s readiness to take membership vows.

That amendment, originally authored by a Texas-based group pushing for denominational approval of homosexuality, garnered 47.8 percent of the total vote, far short of the 66.7 percent required for approval.

Even though the 32 of the proposed amendments had won super-majority (i.e., at least two-thirds) approval from the 2008 General Conference, the larger church rejected the General Conference’s recommendation for all but five amendments.

“That 48,000 interested United Methodists could sift through 32 proposed amendments and affirm five positive actions is a confirmation in the combined wisdom of our process and people,” Mr. Whittemore wrote in his analysis. “It causes one to wonder how in tune [the] General Conference is with [the] pastors and laity of local churches.”

Joe M. Whittemore is a member of the 2008-2012 Connectional Table of the United Methodist Church. He has served in many capacities within the UMC, including as chair of the Southeastern Jurisdiction Committee on the Episcopacy and as a member of the Committee on Audit and Review of the General Council on Finance and Administration. Mr. Whittemore has been a delegate to multiple General Conferences.

Related posts

Bishop Scott Jones: Rethinking the path to a worldwide UMC
Riley Case: Approval of Amendment XIX a ‘positive development’ for evangelicals
Maxie Dunnam: Amendments outcome reflects ‘sense of the faithful’
Bill Bouknight: Methodists are saying ‘No’ to their leaders
North Georgia overwhelmingly disapproves restructuring amendments
Leaders in North Georgia, Holston urge defeat of re-structuring amendments
A ‘procedural’ argument against Amendment I
Ed Tomlinson: Proposed amendments would ‘decimate connectionalism’
Update on the ‘Church and Society’ court case
Joe Whittemore: ‘Enough is enough’

Related articles and information
Voting on 2008 Constitutional Amendments: Summary and observations (PDF) | Joe M. Whittemore (May 2010)
UM Bishops announce defeat of global church and open membership amendments | Connor Ewing, Institute on Religion and Democracy (May 12, 2010)
Study Committee responds to constitutional amendment rejections | Stephen Drachler, Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of the United Methodist Church (May 11, 2010)
Study Committee begins shaping report; focuses on ordained ministry standards | Stephen Drachler, Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of the United Methodist Church (April 30, 2010)
Confessing Movement speaks to Worldwide Nature Study Committee (PDF—see page 5) | Patricia Miller, We Confess newsletter (November/December 2009)
Presentation to the Study Committee on the Worldwide Nature of The United Methodist Church | Paul Stallsworth, Lifewatch (November 2009)
Letter to the Worldwide Nature Study Committee (PDF) | Karen Booth, Transforming Congregations (November 2009)
Which way to a Worldwide Church? (PDF) | Andrew Thompson, Gen-X Rising blog (May 31, 2009)
The worldwide Methodist movement | Eddie Fox, Interpreter Magazine (Web-only article—March 31, 2009)
New group will study church’s Worldwide Nature | Linda Green, United Methodist News Service (March 3, 2009)
African Power: How 192 delegates saved Methodists from madness & other stories from the General Conference | Mark Tooley, Touchstone (November 2008)

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The president of a United Methodist-affiliated seminary says Christians who feel the need to evangelize people of other faiths have “an incorrect perception of what it means to follow Jesus.” The comment from Jerry D. Campbell, president of California’s Claremont School of Theology, was published July 2 by the United Methodist Reporter.

Dr. Jerry D. Campbell

“The correct perception [of following Jesus] is much more on [the] side of learning to express love for God and love for your neighbor as yourself,” he told the newspaper.

Dr. Campbell’s remarks were reported in an article about Claremont’s plan to become an “interreligious institution” that offers clerical training for Muslim imams and Jewish rabbis as well as Christian pastors (see this June 14 MethodistThinker report). Claremont intends to later add training for Buddhists and Hindus, as well.

(On June 25, the United Methodist Church’s University Senate approved Claremont’s new multifaith educational model; details below.)

In dismissing an evangelistic imperative in relation to people who practice non-Christian faiths, Dr. Campbell appears to be calling into question the church’s historic understanding of the Great Commission recorded in Matthew 28, as well as much of the Christian movement’s evangelistic and missionary ministry over its 2,000-year history.

Further, Dr. Campbell’s comments seem at odds with official United Methodist doctrine, which declares that the “ultimate concern” of the church’s ministry is “that all persons will be brought into a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ” (United Methodist Book of Discipline ¶127). The Book of Discipline also states that while United Methodists “respect persons of all religious faiths,” the UMC “affirms that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and the Lord of all” (¶121).

The United Methodist statements about Christ’s uniqueness, lordship, and salvific work stand against a “pluralistic” religious view that sees all religions as equally valid and as serving essentially the same function.

From the religious pluralist’s perspective, evangelizing people of other faiths is not only unnecessary but constitutes an exercise in arrogance, as summed up by missiologist and theologian Lesslie Newbigin in his influential 1989 book, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (here via Google Books):

If what matters about religious beliefs is not the factual truth of what they affirm, but the sincerity with which they are held; if religious belief is a matter of personal inward experience rather than an account of what is objectively the case, then there are certainly no grounds for thinking that Christians have the right— much less any duty — to seek conversion of [others] to the Christian faith….

[According to the religious pluralist, we] have no right to affirm…that there is no other name given under heaven whereby we are to be saved.

The issue of how — and if — Christians should seek to evangelize people of other faiths was a “recurring theme” at Edinburgh 2010, last month’s ecumenical world mission conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, according to a June 4 report published by the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.

Many perspectives emerged among the 300 delegates from 67 countries and more than 50 Christian denominations…. A few voices in a study section on other faiths spoke in favor of a “live and let live” approach to non-Christians, but the temper of the small group reports there reflected that of the overall Edinburgh 2010 conference — witnessing to one’s faith in the contexts of living….

Dr. Dana L. Robert at Edinburgh 2010

A witness approach prevailed among the panelists of conference speakers in the June 4 press conference. “Mission is the church breathing,” said Dr. Dana Robert, the conference keynote speaker, who is a professor at Boston University School of Theology and a United Methodist. “If we don’t breathe, we die,” Dr. Robert said.

In relating to people of other faiths, she recommended an approach of engagement and hospitality to all people…. For Christians, she said, “witnessing to the love of God in Jesus Christ” is an essential part of life, but the results of that witness lie with the Holy Spirit.

Groups participating in the Edinburgh 2010 conference included (partial list): the Anglican Communion, Baptist World Alliance, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches, and the World Methodist Council.

Dr. Dana Robert, in addition to serving as the Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission at the Boston University School of Theology, also heads the School’s Center for Global Christianity and Mission. One of the Center’s stated tasks is “to explore the relationship of mission studies and interfaith dialogue in theory and practice.”

In his 2002 book, Christianity at the Religious Roundtable: Evangelicalism in Conversation with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, Timothy C. Tennent, now president of Asbury Theological Seminary, argued that inter-religious dialogue and faithfulness to historic Christianity are not mutually exclusive. But he rejected acceptance of an “all-religions-are-fundamentally-the-same” ideology.

[W]e must not succumb to the forces of religious pluralism that seek to bring to the table of dialogue a version of Christianity that has been robbed of its distinctiveness. For too long interreligious dialogue has been advanced and identified with a pluralist agenda that openly seeks to accommodate other world religions by discarding distinctive Christian doctrines such as the incarnation and the resurrection of Christ….

True interreligious dialogue acknowledges that all religions in one way or another seek to defend certain truth claims. It is not fair to any religion to allow it to be ensnared in the swamp of religious pluralism, which concludes that we are all saying the same thing….

Many of the proponents of dialogue… [insist] that any desire to convert another person is a fundamental violation of the mutuality inherent in dialogue. The result is the advocacy of a dialogue without persuasion. However, the mutuality of dialogue is not sacrificed if everyone is permitted to speak with persuasion….

[W]e must learn to listen to and understand the actual claims of other religions in order to effectively bear witness to our faith. The New Testament does not just call us to preach the gospel, but to communicate the gospel. This means we cannot speak the gospel into thin air; rather it must be effectively communicated to specific contexts, and we must be ready and willing to respond to real and specific objections and doubts, giving reasons for the hope that is within us (1 Pet. 3:15)….

[I]t is argued [by some that] Christians who dialogue are actually engaged in a monologue disguised as a mutual exchange. On the contrary, I have discovered over and over again that I am enriched by the mutual exchange….

Asbury's Dr. Timothy C. Tennent

I do not think my own appreciation for the doctrine of the Trinity would be nearly as deep if the doctrine had not been challenged so often by my Islamic friends. It was the Buddhists, not my own Christian friends, who finally helped me see the momentous dangers of advocating faith without a clear connection to the historical Jesus of Nazareth….

[W]e stand at an opportune time in the history of the church…. Many who so eagerly jumped onto the postmodern bandwagon are beginning to realize that the true struggle is not between tolerance and intolerance but between truth and falsehood. A new openness to revelation is emerging as well as a desire to reclaim the language of truth that has, until recently, been dropped into the abyss of relativism.

This makes it an exciting and strategic time to sit down at the religious roundtable and bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.

Although Asbury Theological Seminary is not one of the United Methodist Church’s 13 official seminaries, it currently educates about 17 percent of all those training to be United Methodist clergy, according to a 2009 article in Good News magazine.

On June 25, the United Methodist Church’s University Senate, a elected body that determines which schools meet criteria for being affiliated with the denomination, approved Claremont School of Theology’s new interreligious educational model.

The Senate also ordered the release of an estimated $800,000 in Ministerial Education Fund (MEF) money that had been withheld earlier this year pending a review of Claremont’s multifaith educational model and its overall financial situation. MEF funds are raised from local United Methodist churches via the UMC’s apportionment structure.

Riley B. Case, associate director of the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church, described the University Senate’s decision in favor of Claremont as “a tragic step for the United Methodist Church to take,” according the United Methodist Reporter (from the same article quoted earlier).

“[Is Claremont] really fulfilling what ought to be the purpose of United Methodist seminaries?” he asked. “Are they tied into the mission of the church, which is to make disciples for Jesus Christ?”

However, Ellen Ott Marshall, associate professor of Christian ethics at the UM-affiliated Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, told the Reporter that Claremont’s interreligious approach is “a tremendous and exciting leap forward.”

Although no other UM seminary has thus far adopted a multifaith model, in 2007 UM-affiliated Emory University, home of the Candler School of Theology, named Buddhist leader (and Tibetan head of state) the Dalai Lama as a Presidential Distinguished Professor.

This fall, Emory is sponsoring an Interfaith Summit on Happiness featuring Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, The Dalai Lama (a title that roughly translates as “Ocean of Wisdom”), Muslim scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth (U.K.).

Related posts
UM seminary embraces non-Christian faiths, will train Muslim imams, Jewish rabbis
Podcast — Bishop William R. Cannon: ‘The Whole Gospel for the Whole World’
Podcast — Harry Denman: ‘Are We Making Christ Known?’
Podcast — Sir Alan Walker: ‘Christianity at the Crossroads’
Podcast — Eddie Fox: ‘That the World May Know Jesus’

Related articles and information
Claremont’s religious diversity: Church affirms multi-faith project | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (July 2, 2010)
United Methodist money to train Muslim clerics? | Riley B. Case, Good News (July 6, 2010)
Another PR release for Claremont | Terry Mattingly, GetReligion.org (July 6, 2010)
University Senate rescinds public warning (PDF) | news release, University Senate of the United Methodist Church (June 25, 2010)
University Senate organization, policies, and guidelines — 2009-2012 (PDF) | United Methodist University Senate
Members of the United Methodist University Senate — 2009-2012 | UM General Board of Higher Education & Ministry
Methodists, Muslims and Jews: Learning together to lead together | Jerry D. Campbell, On Faith, WashingtonPost.com (June 10, 2010)
Claremont seminary reaches beyond Christianity | Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times (June 9, 2010)
All religions are the same, right? | Bobby Ross Jr., GetReligion.org (June 10, 2010)
Theology school becomes 1st accredited U.S. seminary to train Muslim & Jewish theologians | Islam Today (June 9, 2010)
Methodist and multi-faith dialogue | Sandra N. Bane (chair, Claremont School of Theology board of trustees), Los Angeles Newspaper Group (April 24, 2010)
Being Methodist and multifaith | Jerry D. Campbell, United Methodist Reporter (Oct. 15, 2009)
Why Methodist seminaries are becoming irrelevant and dying | Riley B. Case, Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church (July 2009 — via Methodist Examiner)
Report from Church of England Bishops highlights unchanging duty to share the Good News | The Church of England (June 21, 2010)
Christian mission and other faiths: A complex issue | Elliott Wright, United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (June 4, 2010)
Mission and unity in the long view from 1910 to the 21st century (PDF) | Dana L. Robert, keynote address at the Edinburgh 2010—Witnessing to Christ Today conference (June 3, 2010)
Report on Study Theme 2: Christian mission among other faiths | Edinburgh 2010—Witnessing to Christ Today (April 2010)
Statement on Wesleyan/Methodist witness in Christian and Islamic cultures (PDF) | World Methodist Council (Sept. 18, 2004)

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July 1, 1899: Three traveling businessmen meet in a YMCA building and decide to form an organization to distribute Bibles.

The Christian Commercial Men’s Association of America, later renamed The Gideons International, placed their first Bibles in a hotel nine years later.

July 4, 2003: Financial teacher Larry Burkett, co-founder of Crown Financial Ministries, dies of heart failure at age 64. He was influential in helping American Christians understand the financial implications of Christian discipleship.

July 5, 1865: William Booth begins The Christian Mission to work among London’s poor and unchurched. Later, he changed the mission’s name to The Salvation Army.

July 9, 1228: Stephen Langton, greatest of the medieval archbishops of Canterbury, dies. He had formulated the original division of the Bible into chapters in the late 1100s.

July 11, 1955: Congress puts “In God We Trust” on all U.S. currency.

July 23, 1742:Susannah Wesley (left), mother of John and Charles, dies. Born the 25th child in a clergyman’s family, she became one of the most notable mothers in church history.

July 24, 1874: Oswald Chambers, author of the devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest (published posthumously in 1927), is born in Aberdeen, Scotland.

July 26, 1833: Britain’s House of Commons bans slavery. “Thank God I have lived to witness [this] day!” said William Wilberforce, a British statesman who had spent most of his life crusading against slavery. Wilberforce dies three days later.

July 29, 1794: In a converted blacksmith’s shop in Philadelphia, Methodist preacher — and former slave — Richard Allen assembles a group of black Christians who had encountered racial discrimination in the local Methodist Episcopal Church.

They eventually form what eventually became the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), now known throughout the world. (The graphic at right shows Allen in the center, surrounded by bishops of the AME Church.)

Adapted with permission from ChristianHistory.net.

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